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Discussion Questions: Quiet by Susan Cain

Cover of QuietTitle: Quiet
Author: Susan Cain
Page Count: 352 pages
Genre:  Non-Fiction
Tone: Thought-provoking, Reflective, Accessible

Summary from publisher:
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects.

 

 

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. Quiet has had a lot of popularity and has been on numerous bestseller lists, including the NYT bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Why do you think Quiet has been a bestseller of this magnitude?

2. How did your perception of introversion and extroversion change or not change after reading Quiet?

3. Why do you think Western society evolved from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality?

4. Is it better to have people perceive you as a “competent leader” or overlook your leadership?

5. Why do you think we’re more inclined to follow those who initiate action?

6. What are ways we can look past sparkly speaking skills on a group level? How about when you are speaking with an individual?

7. What studies or facts surprised you?

8. Cain uses a lot of anecdotes to back up her claims. Would you count anecdotes as a credible source?

9. How do you think Cain did writing a book on the strengths of introverts without discounting the value extroverts bring to society?

10. What are the advantages of being an introvert? What are the advantages of being an extrovert?

11. One of the anecdotes Cain shares is of a tax lawyer who had trouble performing speaking events with very short notice. She thought it spoke poorly of her skills and knowledge, but it turns out she needed more advance notice for speaking. Cain writes, “But once Esther understands herself, she can insist to her colleagues that they give her advance notice of any speaking events” (126). This is one example of one of the kinds of tweaks, Cain suggests introverts make for their success. How do we begin to understand ourselves, so we can make these kinds of tweaks in our own lives?

12. How realistic do you think those tweaks are that we might make in our daily life? How about in the tweaks Cain talks about in the workplace?

13. Cain shares a statement by a woman from Taiwan who attended graduate school at UCLA, “Oh in the U.S., as soon as you start talking, you’re fine.” How does this statement ring true in the U.S.? How does it differ? Are there situations when this could be of benefit or of detriment?

14. There is a part of the book where Cain talks about fixed and free personality traits, basically saying that there are some personality traits that we are not stuck with having, and there is more flexibility in our personalities. She asks the question, “But if we’re capable of such flexibility, does it even make sense to chart the differences between introverts and extroverts?” (206) How would you answer that question?

15. What lessons did you glean from Quiet about interacting with the people around you, whether you’re an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert?

16. What are ways you can modify your behavior to better connect with introverts? How about extroverts?

17. Do you think introverts or extroverts tend to use the internet to communicate more, whether it be email or social networks like Facebook?

18. Who wouldn’t like this book? Who would disagree with it?

19. This book was divided in four different parts discussing essentially the workplace, the biology of introversion, Western culture and other cultures, and finally relating to others. What section or sections did you find most useful or interesting?

20. Do you think Quiet will have any lasting power? It’s popular now, but will it still be popular/enlightening/necessary in ten years from now? How about twenty? Or forty?

21. Cain is advocating for the Quiet Revolution in which we go about in life paying more attention to introverts. What would be risked if we pay more attention to introversion? What would be gained?

22. Do you see the emphasis on groups appearing in places other than work or school?

23. Do you trust Susan Cain as the author? Why or why not?

24. Do you have any suggestions of interesting psychology/science nonfiction books?

Other Resources

Publisher Discussion Questions
Susan Cain’s TED Talk
Networking for Introverts (Video)
Q&A with Susan Cain
The Accidental Creative Podcast with Susan Cain

 

If you liked Quiet, try...

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The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling
The Circle by Dave Eggers
Multiplicity by Rita Carter

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 11, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

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By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 27, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Barbara F., Staff Picks

Nonfiction: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

History of the World in 100 Objects book coverHere’s a challenge for all you list-makers and students of society: choose only one hundred items to represent the entirety of human history. Tough task, right? Members of the British Museum and of the BBC took up this mission and gave themselves a few rules: draw from all time periods, cover the entire world equally, and include the humble everyday as well as great works of art. Director Neil MacGregor compiled the results in A History of the World in 100 Objects. Sure, you’ll find the Rosetta Stone and Bolivian pieces-of-eight, but also making the cut is a modern UAE credit card and a 2001 throne made of weapons from Mozambique. It’s a fascinating way to chart civilization, and you’ll find yourself unearthing more than you expected.

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Audiobook: Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on January 19, 2015 Categories: Audiobooks, Nonfiction

Nonfiction: Challenge Yourself in the New Year

While the new year has already begun, it is not too late to try living this year a little differently! Tara Bannon Williamson shares books in which the author commits his or herself to accomplish a certain thing for a year. Check out some of the books she mentions below!

 

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Up for Renewal by Cathy Alter
Halfway to Heaven
by Mark Obmascik
The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs

Reading the OED  Living Oprahhelping Me Help Myself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading the OED by Ammon Shea
Living Oprah
by Robyn Okrant
Helping Me Help Myself
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Not Buying It by Judith Levine
Plenty
by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon
My Jesus Year
by Benyamin Cohen

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Candy Girl by Diablo Cody
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
by Barbara Kingsolver
Give It Up!
by Mary Carlomagno

 

Interested in finding more yearly challenges or book reading challenges? Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor and speak with a Readers’ Advisor to help you find something that will suit your reading tastes and goals.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 2, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

New: Fiction and Nonfiction Books

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: Fiction Books

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The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas
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Skylight by Jose Saramago
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New: Nonfiction Books

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Library Staff Favorites of 2014

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Amy
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Picture of Amy

Amy
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Cover of Barb B.

Barb
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I Must Say

Barbara
Fiction/AV/Teen:
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Carla
Administration:
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Carmel Shane
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Carol
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Cathleen
Fiction/AV/Teen
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Station Eleven
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Colleen
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Picture of Cynthia

Cynthia
Research Services:
Ready Player One
The Returned

Picture of Dale

Dale
Research Services:
Hysterical
Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Picture of Diane

Diane
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Among Others
Guardians of the Galaxy

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Donna
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Winter Street
Duets II

Picture of Janine

Janine
Circulation:
True Detective
Ready Player One

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Joe
Research Services:
Lowball
Rick and Morty

Picture of KarenKaren
Registration:
Ancillary Justice
Neptune’s Inferno

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Larry
Fiction/AV/Teen:
The Martian
Redshirts

 

 

 

Picture of Mary Jane

Mary Jane
Research Services:
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How Dogs Love Us

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Megan
South Branch
:
Red Rising
Saga

 

 

 

Picture of Nancy

Nancy
Fiction/AV/Teen:
My Salinger Year
American Hustle

 

 

 

Picture of Nicole

Nicole
Circulation:
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Life in Motion

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Paula
Registration:
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Dad is Fat

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Rosemary
Technical Services:

Natchez Burning
How the Light Gets In

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Steve
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By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 19, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor, Literary, Movies and TV, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction, Romance, Staff Picks

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By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 16, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Marta, Staff Picks

Nonfiction: When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

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“This is the story of pens that were as mighty as swords,” writes Molly Guptill Manning, and she isn’t exaggerating. During the dark days of World War II, when it became known that Hitler had banned and burned over one hundred million books, librarians rallied to send free books to American troops stationed overseas. The popularity of the Victory Book Campaign then led to the establishment of the Council on Books in Wartime, in which the Army itself oversaw the printing of thousands of paperbacks that could be tucked into packs. When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II is a highly readable, greatly informative celebration of what great stories of all kinds can do for those in unimaginable circumstances. Not only is this a hit for book lovers and history buffs alike, but an index of titles issued as part of the Armed Forces Editions is included to fatten up your to-read list.

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